Summer Solstice: What you need to know and what you need to do

This is my last blog of the year. I would like to express my gratitude to you, my readers, and give thanks for all your Knowledge Bed questions, as I so love to hear from you regularly and to have the opportunity to contribute to your gardening expertise. While I take a break, please keep your questions coming in as I will be banking them and answering them in the New Year.

It is a special time of year today – the summer solstice. But do you know why?

What does summer solstice mean in the garden?

Summer solstice traditionally was a time to harvest garlic and still may be for many of you. For me, the only garlic I have had any success growing has been elephant garlic which is very mild and a member of the leek family. For some reason, this hasn’t been affected by the dreaded rust or black aphids this year. Living in an area of high humidity, no frost and tropical rain, growing big crops of garlic isn’t a possibility anymore.

Top Tip: If you are pulling your garlic out on the longest day of the year, be mindful to snap dry it quickly. Pull it and leave it resting on the ground for the day; trim roots and remove dirt and any infected leaves; hang it up to dry in a cool, dry, airy place and be mindful to watch for mites in the root zone before storing.

What should I be doing at summer solstice?

Summer solstice gives us the most daylight hours in the span of the year and, winter solstice, the shortest number of daylight hours in the year. I take notes at these times of the year to watch where the sun is and where my shade is, and plant accordingly.

This is a great thing to know for your own garden as, in the summer, there are a number of things that like to grow in the shade like rocket, coriander and lettuce. Cucumbers, squash and zucchinis will benefit from part shade after the midday sun as, if these are in the full sun all day, they will collapse their leaves to protect themselves which, in turn, can put them under stress.

If you have enough water, a last planting of the season can be done, provided a good mulch is placed around them. I tend to plant in the evening after the air has cooled, which enables the plant a good start in the ground with the cool of the night air. Plants that like the full sun are tomatoes and chillis, capsicum, basil and eggplant.

Remember when watering in this heat that early is best, and apply to the root zone and not overhead, as this will cause pest and disease to come. This is because the water will still be on the plant by the time the heat is in the sun and can fry the leaves, weakening your plant and attracting pesky bugs.

Feeding is another essential element this summer, as our plants pump on the growth and bear lots of fruit. If you have beans and tomatoes on your plants and want your plant to produce all summer long try this…

Top Tip: As the new buds begin to form, spray with Flower Optimise every two weeks, as this has all the nutrients needed to keep your plants productive all summer long and keep the flowers coming for abundant harvests. I’ve put this on special offer this week, to help get your gardens on their way!

Liquid Kelp is also another essential ingredient to keep the plants strong and healthy over the summer months. It increases the strength in the cell structure of your plants and help keep pests away. Remember healthy soil and healthy plants won’t attract disease.

Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and a fresh-picked produce New Year.

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